Monday, October 29, 2012

You decide: Woohoo or Boohoo

Recently, I've been lurking around on the Miss Snark's First Victim blogsite, trying to improve different aspects of my writing and hoping to score some interest from an agent.

So far,
But I'm not giving up.

This morning, the discovery of my first real rejection by an actual literary agent left me completely crushed. See, I'd entered a Secret Agent contest over at MSFV and posted the first 250 words of my story. Any Joe Schmo could leave comments and the Secret Agent would also. If s/he was interested, s/he would ask for more. Sadly, she did not love it. Or even like it. She said it was the worst possible way to start a story and had absolutely NO interest in reading more.

[insert snot-nosed crying and moaning here]

I was shocked. I really thought I had something...amazing. Not the snoozy bore she said wouldn't even encourage her to turn past page 1 (although others said they would definitely read on). I read all her comments on the other contestants' entries and found only a few harsher comments than what she wrote for me (and I agreed with her on most of those).
So, after my initial pity party and woe-is-me moment, I picked myself up, wiped away the tears and snot, and took another look at page 1. Keeping the suggestions of the other commenters in mind as well, I tried to see the story through fresh eyes. What I found shocked me.

They were right!

The issue most readers were having was something I'd been holding onto as the last reminent of the very first draft of my story (back when I was calling it Lily). I have now (for the bazillionth time) revised the first, oh, 400 words and really like the new version. I don't know if the Agent would feel the same (I doubt it), but hers is only one literary agent's opinion.

What is your opinion? Below is the revised first 250 words. (Okay, it's actually 257 words but I couldn't just leave it in mid-)

Abduction was never supposed to be part of the best weekend of my life – neither was dying – but then things seldom go according to my plans.

The weekend started out decent, at least. I stepped off the bus and out into the promise of freedom Friday afternoons held. I moseyed across the suburban road, happy to be home and even happier that Saturday was finally only one day away.

As I got closer to the front door, my daydream of how different this birthday would be from previous ones was interrupted by Mom’s voice. She was in there, toiling away to remove the imaginary layer of dirt she swore coated everything no matter how recently she’d cleaned it. A smile crept up my lips as I gripped the door handle. It was almost time for my ball and this Cinderella had handed in her broom for the weekend.

“Oh!” I cried as I stumbled forward. Strong arms caught me. Intending to apologize for my uncommon clumsiness, I looked up at the stranger holding me and inhaled sharply. “Do I…know you?”

I narrowed my eyes, trying to place his completely foreign yet uncannily familiar features. Tightening his hold, he glared at me, his brilliant green eyes reflecting the sunlight in an unusual halo around his pupil.

I tried to pull away from his grip, away from him and his measuring gaze. “Let me go,” I breathed. He scowled and pulled me closer. He leaned his face into my neck and, like an animal scenting its prey, he inhaled.

So, what do you think? Woohoo or Boohoo? And, if you care to compare, you can click here to read the other boohooed submitted version. Thanks for any feedback! :)


  1. The thing that I don't like about this piece is how you start with a monologue of "abduction was never supposed to be part of the best weekend of my life..."

    The reason I don't like it is because she's reflecting back on this. Which means she has most likely survived the abduction and is about to tell me a story that is already in past tense using first person narrative.

    But I have this huge spoiler in just this one sentence. I think it would be more effective to drop that, make it present tense, and make us feel the abduction as it's happening.

    1. Thanks for the honest feedback Michael! I'm not at a point yet where I want to change the entire story into present tense as it is currently written in past tense.

      Maybe it's just the new first sentence? My original opening was:

      It was supposed to be the best weekend of my life. I had it all planned out. Dying? That wasn’t part of the plan.

      In your opinion, is that any better? I suppose it's still a reflection and the abduction/dying doesn't happen right away, so I can't really lead with that. Maybe I need a different opening altogether, one to hook the reader without teasing about something that isn't going to happen right away.

      Anyway, I really appreciate you taking the time to read it and give me feedback!